In looking through the email that has piled up, I realized that a number of readers were asking about me or asking for my opinion on various topics. So, I’ve decided to turn them into a chance for YOU to interview me…
1) What’s your favorite comic book story that you’ve written, and why is it your favorite?
2) What websites do you check into at least once a week, comics-related or not?
3) If you were offered your choice of writing any current comic book being published, which one would you choose, and why?
4) What comic book titles are you currently reading and enjoying?
5) Of all the questions you’ve been asked since starting this column, which have been some of your favorites?
6) Has anyone ever thanked you for providing the answer to a question they asked?
I do want to also take this opportunity to thank you for your weekly column. I’ve been reading it steadily for some time now, and it’s always enjoyable.
1) After writing almost 500 stories, it’s tough to pick just one as my favorite, but one that comes to mind is “Brenda’s Story” in ‘MAZING MAN #6. It was a seven-page back-up in which Brenda contemplated an office romance. Stephen DeStefano did an excellent job on the pencils, following my panel-by-panel instructions to the letter. (I had threatened to kill him if he didn’t.) Actually, I must correct that; he made one small addition in a panel that when I saw it I said, “Yes, that’s perfect!”
I think it is one of my favorites because I was trying something a little different in the way the story was told and was concerned about whether it would work. Response from readers was very positive.
After ‘Mazing Man, my favorite series to write was SUPERMAN: THE SECRET YEARS because I got to add a whole chapter to the Man of Steel’s life – his college career. And though it was all wiped away by the John Byrne revamp, it’s still there as far as I’m concerned.
2) I check out the columns of my fellow writers here at SBC, as well as the online columns by my pals Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll. I also visit the New York Times Online regularly and The Motley Fool from time to time. Oh, and I check on the status of my 401(k) plan.
3) I’d like to write JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES. During the years when I was writing steadily, JUSTICE LEAGUE was the one book I never got a chance to write and always wished I had. ADVENTURES is the closest thing to that today. (I did get to write a couple of coloring books to tie in to the series – they’re in the works now. But writing a 20 page – which is only 20 PANELS really – coloring book is not the same as having a full regular issue to do.)
4) First on my list to read are the Archives and TPB collections of older material, like SUPERMAN IN THE FIFTIES. I give all the Elseworlds books a try and I’ll take a look at new spins on old characters (Green Arrow, Hawkman, Aquaman, et al) though I find I lose interest when the storylines drag on forever. I also enjoy Alan Moore’s various “ABC” books.
5) My favorite question of all time: “Who is the strangest character in the DC Universe?” My response: “Well, there’s Adam Strange and the Phantom Stranger, but there is no Strangest character.”
6) Yes, many of them do.
You started your writing career as a fan, then went on to get work at DC. Why, despite your talents, aren’t you doing comics these days? Is it that writers aren’t seriously regarded these days unless they are already in the industry?
Simply put, I’m not doing any comics these days because no editors seem interested in having me work for them. Very few of us “second generation” writers (those who entered the business in the late 60s and early 70s) are considered for work these days and more than a couple of us have been told we don’t have the “sensibilities” to write for the current audience. This is rather amusing as we see more and more material (and especially secondary products like statues) aimed at the very audience we came from and wrote for.
Very few of the editors working in comics today have any formal training as editors – from past masters in the field or from other publishing experience. Their primary goal in hiring writers seems to be finding someone who is “hot” at another company or someone who has made a name in movies or other areas, regardless of that person’s ability to actually write a comic book script. This often results in seemingly endless “stories” which consist mostly of pinup shots, pages and pages of fights, and a cliffhanger lead-in to the next issue.
Which leads us to the next question…
Where do you think the comic book industry is headed in the next five years as far as style is concerned? (I wish they would use more Silver and Bronze Age elements. I like a lot of the new stuff, but I think they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.)
— Tim Kretzer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I think it will continue down the path it’s been taking… individual issues that don’t stand alone, but are instead part of a single multi-part “story” aimed ultimately at collection in a trade paperback. And sales on those individual issues will continue their long spiral downward.
I think too many artists will continue to draw their own “interpretations” of characters rather than sticking to a standard “look.” The styles of Curt Swan and Wayne Boring were about the farthest apart that DC allowed on Superman in the 50s and 60s… and there was no doubt who all the characters were in any given story. Today, there are people drawing the top features for DC and Marvel who twenty-five years ago would have been told, “You need to work on anatomy, perspective, and plain old drawing ability…and by the way, don’t quit your day job.” Superman has a Jay Leno-sized chin or looks like a Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon and there are times when I can’t figure out which woman is Lois Lane.
And I think the art will continue to be overpowered by computer-coloring done by too many people who seem to have no idea how to make the important elements of a panel stand out. (Former DC Production Director Jack Adler had an easy test: Turn the page upside down. If your eye is not drawn to the most important thing in the picture, then the colorist hasn’t done the job correctly.)
Finally, as the value-provided of an individual issue decreases, the price will continue to rise. $2.99 for a 32-page pamphlet — of which only 22 pages is actual content — may seem like a bargain five years down the road.
Not to argue with my learned colleague Robt. Greenberger, but the fins on the back of Aquaman’s legs are part of his costume, not his body. Keith Giffen was simply wrong. That story never happened, any more than the Superman story written by Marty Pasko that explained no one recognized Clark Kent as Superman because of some hypnotic quality of his eyeglasses or the Gardner Fox (I believe) written issue of The Flash that reveals a character named Mopee was responsible for the lightning bolt that changed Barry Allen’s life. Just because a story has seen print at some point along the way is no reason to demand it become part of a character’s history and continuity. Sometimes even the most talented people, such as those learned gentlemen above, make mistakes. That’s what makes us human. A far bigger mistake is to assume EVERYTHING counts.
Of course, as the high-verbal Dennis Miller is wont to say, that’s just MY opinion. I could be wrong.
— Len Wein
Well, Len, Bob G has been DC’s “Continuity Cop” for a long time so his word is usually law. But maybe we can convince him otherwise on this one.
One note regarding blood donations in the US: While the American Red Cross services much of the nation’s blood supply needs, many areas (including where I live) are serviced by independent blood banks, which are members of the American Association of Blood Banks. If you can’t find a Red Cross Blood Bank in your area, you can check the AABB list at: http://www.aabb.org/Locator/Locator.asp
(They also include listings for several locations outside the US.) The main AABB site (http://www.aabb.org) has a great deal of useful information and facts about blood donation.
— Orville Eastland (email@example.com)
Thanks, Orville. The blood supply around the county remains dangerously low and making it easier for potential donors to find nearest blood bank helps.
For the person looking for sites about comic book violence, he should check out Gail Simone’s Women in Refrigerators site (http://www.the-pantheon.net/wir/). It’s been a while since I’ve checked it out, but as I recall it deals with violence towards women in comics. The name of the site comes from the Green Lantern story where Major Force kills Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend and stuffs her in her refrigerator. A thought-provoking site.
— Dave Ziegler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.